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ment: it is no easy matter, at first, to venture upon a wilful transgression of God's holy and righteous laws, when we know that this will infallibly expose us to the resentment of that God who will one day take severe vengeance upon all the impenitent workers of iniquity. Yet, notwithstanding all this, such is the insinuating nature of sin, that it can bring us, step by step, to such a degree of wickedness, as to make us shake off all natural abhorrence, disregard the monitions of conscience, and be fearless of that God who is a consuming fire.
And this callous insensibility will extend itself to every part of our conduct in life. There was a time, perhaps, when we felt some compunction for neglecting the public worship of God; but, by habitual carelessness as to this divine service, we become perfectly easy and sedate in the omission of this duty, and, like multitudes in this age of impiety and immorality, can perfectly satisfy our consciences, though we rarely or never approach either the temple or altar' of God; or perhaps even never name them, but for purposes of ridicule and profaneness: Thus again, he who formerly thought it a crime of deep dye, not to honour his father and mother, by long and frequent repetitions of disobedience, comes at last to transgress the commandment 6
without shame, and without any terrifying intimations from within. He who at first was cast down and disquieted at the review of any disloyal act against the great Sovereign of the world, by long habits of profane cursing and swearing and blasphemy, learns to commit his impious insults against Heaven with the most daring defiance and hardened insolence. Should the Alınighty say to him, If I be a father, where is mine honour? his reply would be, Who is the Almighty, that I should serve him ? Thus a long series of sinning stupifies the soul, and thereby makes it commit every species of iniquity with= out hesitation, and review the commission of it without compunction.
And when a sinner has thus overcome the force of conscience, and thrown it into a lasting insensibility, as a consequence of this, he is fortified against every thing which might tend to convince him of his folly. Having strengthenied himself in his wickedness, he calls hardness of heart peace of conscience, and the stupor of insensibility quiet of mind; “I shall have
peace,” says he, though I walk in the
imagination of mine heart, to add drunken“ ness to thirst.” It is in vain, therefore, to call to him to forsake the evil of his ways, and turn his feet to the testimonies of God. He is
not conscious of the magnitude of his guilt, and therefore, when the great God beseeches him to return to him, he will say, wherein shall I return? He is not sensible that he is sick, and therefore cannot be persuaded that he needs a physician.
Neither, therefore, the public administration of God's holy word, the affectionate counsel of friends, nor the visible severity of God's dispensations, can check the obdurate pride of his heart, and make him sensible that he is treading the paths of hell and damnation.
Well may, therefore, the task of reclaiming an habitual sinner be compared to that of changing the skin of the Ethiopian, or the spots of the leopard !
Let this, therefore, teach every one that hears me the extreme danger of going on in sin, in the foolish presumption that he will be able to return to a life of religion and virtue, when advancing age or increasing infirmity remind him, that it is now high time to make his peace with God.
2. Let it imprint on the minds of my young hearers the necessity of being under the early in
Huence of religion.—“Remember thy Creator;" says the wise man, “in the days of thy youth.” --Acquaint thyself with God betimes, and be at peace with him ; that so thou mayest prevent those evil days, in which, through a confirmed habit of sin, thou art insensibly treasuring up to thyself wrath against the dreadful day of wrath and final indignation. Our first impressions, we all know, -are generally the strongest and most durable. He, therefore, who in the dawn of life is made acquainted with the God of his fathers, and serves him with a perfect heart and willing mind, seldom deserts his first love, and turns the stream of his religion to other gods. The child that is trained up in the true knowledge of God, the eternal Creator of all things, and Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of mankind, seldom grows weary or faint in well-doing, or departs from the good way in which he ought to go. Of all the modes of reformation, therefore, which have been either suggested or attempted by benevolent minds, it must be obvious to every one, that there is none so likely to be attended with certain and permanent success, as the early instruction of young persons in the knowledge of God and their duty.
Finally, according to the Apostle's advice, let tus exhort one another daily, whilst it is called
to-day, lest any of us be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin, and thereby exclude ourselves from the rest which remaineth for the people of God. Let us beware how we venture upon sin, and accustom ourselves to do evil, lest we arrive to such an impenitent hardness of heart, that we shall never be able to learn to do well. Let us believe in Christ and obey his Gospel, who alone can wash away the stain of sin ; who alone is able to keep us from falling, and to present us faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy.